B & B - How About Running a Bed and Breakfast?

by : Gary Ashton

For those home owners already in the bed and breakfast business, this is a busy time of the year. Hanging out the signs again, putting the 'Vacancy' sign in the window and generally sprucing up the front of the house.

In fact, many of us are thinking of smartening up the front of our homes as warmer weather beckons and the stores start bringing in plants. Everyone is ready for the spring, and people will be pulling out their maps again, ready to hit the road.

If you live in an area that attracts tourists or is a through road to somewhere that does, you could have a lucrative option right on your doorstep. It is not too difficult to run a bed and breakfast business, all you need is a really nice room (with an en suite) and a smile at the door.

If you can't design your own web site or join up with a communal B & B web site in your area, then try the old fashioned method. These days, there are many towns that have their own 'tourist information centers' that will also carry details of bed and breakfasts.

If the one in your area doesn't offer this service, maybe they would appreciate the suggestion of it from you! Different tourism offices have different systems already set up. Some tourist offices book for the customer, take a deposit for you, of which they keep 5% and the customer pays you the balance on arrival.

Other information centers carry photo albums with pictures, location, phone number and prices of nearby B & Bs. They will permit use of their phone and make a booking immediately. In this case, you must ask for their credit card number and keep your fingers crossed!

It is better if you finalize the business end of the transaction on arrival, so that your guests can leave whenever they want. Do not leave the cash part until they are leaving. Have a guest register book on your hall table for them to sign into upon arrival, and deal with the cash at this time; make sure you have specified 'cash only' on your advertisement.

Ideally the room that you will plan for them will be large and there will be space for a nice arrangement of small fridge, table and 2 chairs, coffee machine and microwave. Breakfast can be continental or full cooked breakfast but you must specify in your advert which you will be offering (or if you will offer either).

Obviously the continental breakfast is easiest: A well-stocked freezer can supply hot croissants, bread rolls and and hot muffins in a linen-lined basket taken to their room. Butter, jam, honey and marmalade may be served on the side with a platter of cold meats and cheese slices.

For a full breakfast you will need to know both their order and their chosen time before they go to bed at night (i.e.deal with it on arrival and ask them to leave their choice on the hall table). This can be served in their room, or if you have a formal dining room that will be private, you can choose which you prefer.

Running a B & B can be interesting and fun; you may meet people from all over the world who will return each year and even perhaps, become friends! If you find you enjoy it enough to develop it as a business, your realtor will be happy to help you search out a bigger property!